Session 4: Digital Collections Outreach

Digital Collections Outreach



  • Wikipedia
    • Cite back to collection/website
  • Kringla
  • “athons”
    • Events of various durations
  • Reddit AMA’s
    • AMA about the Shoah foundation brought more traffic to online collections.


Private communication with stakeholders is a criterion for judging whether or not a grant should be funded. Hence, communication with stakeholders combined with project planning is key.


User evaluation before a project can sometimes be equally helpful as a user evaluation after the project.




Understanding your audience is very important

  • You have to distinguish between a specific audience and the general audience.


Sometimes you don’t know who your audience is going to be so it’s best if you test it out first.

  • Social media is a risk free way to send out information and see the type of audience it attracts.
  • It’s also dangerous as there will be a lot of exposure and you might attract people you don’t want to.


There is an important distinction between outreach and crowd sourcing.


Purpose of Outreach

  • Audience building
  • Collections building
  • Social media growth
  • Serendipity


Word of warning with Outreach, you have to understand who you’re sending content to and be wary of copyright laws.

  • Watermarking images might be a way to protect the content.


You can’t be too cautious either because otherwise it won’t be too accessible. It needs to be easily accessible online for students, teachers etc.

  • If you are trying to reach a high school student or an undergrad, they won’t be too motivated to spend long hours sifting through online databases to find what they want.


Measuring outreach

  • Calculating the number of Google searches.
  • Sometimes the metric doesn’t make sense and obscure documents could have a large impact.
  • Metrics can sometimes act as a trap
    • 100 google random searches doesn’t equal one dedicated search made by an enthusiast
    • How do you make meaningful decisions based on metrics?
  • Outcome evaluation is very difficult as some collections gain traction through citation years after it’s initially published.

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About Angela Spidalette

I am a junior at the George Washington University studying archaeology and classical studies. I have participated in projects such as the Lodz Ghetto Project through the USHMM and the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Furthermore, I find the digitization of museum collections very interesting.